Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Interesting post at The Shape of Days about Py’ôngyang's biggest incomplete construction project: the Ryugyông Hotel.
I'm no expert on North Korean psychology, but it seems to me that there's only one plausible answer: Building the Ryugyong was a matter of national pride. The North Korean government put the Ryugyong on city maps before ground was even broken; they even put it on a stamp. The Ryugyong was to be a monument to the North Korean virtue of juche, or self-reliance.

The same sense of pride that drove them to build the Ryugyong has driven the North Koreans to an almost pathological level of denial about the building. It's no longer on the city's maps. Guides claim not to know where it is. No one speaks of it. This state of affairs is made all the more surreal by the fact that the almost incomprehensibly massive Ryugyong is visible from every part of Pyongyang. It hangs over the horizon, never far out of sight. The ultimate expression of the idea of the elephant in the corner.

Spot the hotel that isn't really there Posted by Hello

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